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Women´s WFCQ 2017 AOFC - Day 1 – 31.01.2017

The first day of the Asia Oceania qualifications for the Women´s World Floorball Championships 2017 was a day of many first. The first time that China, either men or women, has ever competed at an IFF event; the first time that the Thai women´s team competed at an IFF event; and the first win for the New Zealand women.

There were also many players scoring their first international goals - Vanessa Dwyer (AUS), Maho Karino (JPN), Natsumi Naoi (JPN), Yejin Shim (KOR), Namhyung Kim (KOR), Nia Emrys (NZL), Sophie Scott (NZL), Nicolette Jones (NZL), Emma Molander (NZL), Anita Jones (NZL), Johana Moss (NZL) & Mia Solomon (NZL).

The day began with Japan v Malaysia, with the experienced Japanese team taking the points with a 6-2 win. Players like Yui Goto, who has been to 3 WFCs already, led the way for the Japanese, but the Malaysians who are returning to top-level floorball after a break of several years showed some good strength.  They kept the score much closer than many expected, due in a large part to the great work in goals from Michaela Khoo Lee Ann, who made 29 saves.

Next was Singapore v Korea, another match with a very experienced team playing one that has been absent from international level for some years. Korea surprised Singapore with their tight defence and halfway through the match were up 3-1, however, in the final period the Singaporeans broke the strong wall of the Koreans and scored 5 unanswered goals to win 5-3. Again, it was the experienced players who were called upon to pull their team through, this time it was Jill Quek with a hattrick that helped to turn the game.

Thailand, playing their first IFF event, were a total unknown for the Aussie girls. The Australian coach, Neil Anderes, had hoped for any other opponent than Thailand for their first match, but in the end, he needn´t have worried, Australia had a comfortable 6-1 win. Too many penalties for the Thai team cost them dearly with the Australians scoring two powerplay goals as well as one when equally shorthanded. In fact, special teams for Thailand didn´t have a good day at all, unable to convert 5 chances of their own as well as being scored against when they had the player advantage. Despite the score, you can always rely on the Thai team bench to cheer non-stop throughout the game and show great enthusiasm.

Before the final match of the day, the teams, officials and spectators were treated to a wonderful Maori welcome which included dancing, singing and a haka. The team captains and IFF received gifts from the New Zealand team and met their Maori hosts with a traditional hongi greeting. Deputy Leader of the New Zealand Labour Party, Annette King, thanked the many supporters of Floorball New Zealand and the local community, while the event was officially opened by IFF Secretary General, John Liljelund. The opening ceremony was attended by many representatives from the embassies, including High Commissioners and Ambassadors.

  

New Zealand and China played an historic last game of the day, where, unless there was a draw, one team was going to come away with their first ever international win. Today that was New Zealand with a very convincing 13-0 win over the newcomers. A great result for the Kiwi girls as well as for the local crowd. Like the Chinese, many of the New Zealanders were playing their first international matches but the experience from their own local leagues proved a big difference. A tough start for the Chinese but every team has to start somewhere and with every game that they play they will no doubt improve.

Many great photos from all of the matches can be found at FLICKR. Unfortunately, today we had big problems with the streaming but some new equipment is being flown in from Auckland tonight so we hope that we will be able to provide some live match pictures tomorrow.

Photos:  Masanori Udagawa